I have a daughter, a feisty, opinionated, determined, focussed, bright, musical, free spirited child. She knows her own mind, but she loves new experiences. She passionate loves and equally passionately loathes or resists (putting on vests, having a wee, using a blue crayon rather than a yellow one, listening to the wind with the window open, or with the window closed, wearing the spotty socks not the stripey ones etc etc) at times … Equally, she’s calm, concentrated and considered in decisions. She’s a four year old … volatile and seemingly erratic behaviour can be seen as par for the course.
BUT … what she hasn’t been in the past is rude, deliberately rude, or more specifically defiantly rude.
That has changed…
and I blame Mickey Mouse, well not him but his global corporate parent, and in particular his ‘sibling’ Elsa.
Small person doesn’t get to watch much TV … she’s too busy living her life and having adventures. Sometimes she might have an after supper 10 minutes of Sarah and Duck (which is utterly brilliant and if you haven’t seen it I would urge you to rush and do so), or she’ll sit with her Granby (I’m not allowed in, it’s their thing to do together) and watch Strictly Come Dancing … but other than that and a DVD of children’s songs and a once a fortnight or soviewing of Peppa Pig. She plays the piano, does puzzles, sings, dances to music, digs in the garden, cycles, plays on swings, cooks, eats, reads, gets muddy, makes things, breaks things … she has friends and she thrives and flourishes. She also dislikes movies … and actively resists going to the movies.
So … we’d managed to get to being nearly 4 before she saw Frozen … infact before she even heard the songs. Then we went to a (very happy) 4th birthday party, it was themed around fairies and princesses and had lots of Frozen ‘stuff’, and the dance at the end was to Let It Go. She picked up the tune and hummed it on the way home. A few weeks later we were invited to go to a Sing A Long A Frozen with 3 of her friends from playgroup and their mothers. She wore a pink sparkly nightie with a picture of a princess on the front (a very dear American friend with a penchant for bling, and with two sons, bought it for her), and she spent most of the ‘show’ clutching my arm or sitting on my lap … but again on the way home sang the Let It Go theme and told Granby how she LOVED Elsa and how her cartoon heroine has the same “sparkly” hair that she does.
We got home and she asked to listen to the song, I found it on YouTube and we watched it together, a few times, then she wanted to show her Granby … it became something she watched, sang along with and ultimately copied the dance moves to from time to time. She clenched her fists, she stomped up the imaginary ice stairs and she woke the frozen palace as she danced … she was a little Elsa and started to tell me so on a daily basis.
Fast forward a few weeks, and another party where she had seen the whole movie…
and then, THEN, this weekend an argument about eating soup, her favourite soup, soup that she’d made, soup that she’s eaten for months.
It was lunchtime, she was grumpy as I hadn’t had a chance to plat her hair (“like Elsa”) and because I said she had to wait til after lunch to put her Elsa dress on (incase she spilt soup on it). I asked her to eat some of her lunch, she glared at me and said, “I DON’T CARE WHAT YOU’RE GOING TO SAY”.
Then she turned her head, flung out her hand and said, “I’ve Frozen you, you’re dead now”.
Generally I TRY, and I emphasise the word try (because I more than frequently fail), to do the whole Gentle Parenting thing, and be patient, discuss traumas and so on … but on this occasion I didn’t, “What did you just say to me young lady?” …
“LET THE STORM RAGE ON, you are a BAD Mummy”, she shouted, and climbed down in a very floucy manner from her high chair, “I’m Elsa and my Mummy is dead in the ocean in a boat”. She then stamped her foot, waved her hands upwards (as she does when mimicking Elsa creating the ice castle from frozen fractals (new word to me, hats off to Disney for the vocabulary expansion there), and swooshed her skirt, and stomped into the hall crashing the door behind her, “I SLAM THE DOOR”.
I tried not to laugh, and thought it would be better to let her calm down a bit, eat some of my soup and see what happened next. A few moments later she stomped back in, clearly annoyed I hadn’t gone out after her. She picked up her spoon from the table and threw it on the floor, turned and stomped out, slamming the door again, “THE STORM NEVER BOTHERED ME ANYWAY”.
Two minutes later she came back in quietly, hugged me, burst into tears and told me she loved me and that she wasn’t Elsa and I wasn’t dead.
Then she sat on my lap and wolfed down the soup, “Yummy, Mama, my favourite. Now can I have a plat like Elsa?”
I’m still not sure whether to laugh, cry or just gasp out loud when I reflect on it … being insulted in Frozen lyrics, by a small person using the tone of voice, the movements of the singer and the same thunderously frosty defiance of the cartoon … I wasn’t expecting that!
I mean when I was a teenager and had rows with my mother, I slammed my bedroom door shut, turned up the record player and I played Billy Joel and “I don’t care what you say any more this is MY life, go ahead with your own live and leave me alone”, very loudly until my mother actually snapped the record in half one afternoon … but I was a teenager … not a FOUR YEAR OLD.
I’m shocked at the impact the song has had on her, the way she’s interpreted and channelled Elsa’s defiance and anger (and a bit impressed at that as well), and I’m bemused at the way the biggest children’s character of the moment is such an angry person. I mean it’s good she’s independent, it’s good she’s confident and her own person (I’m talking Elsa here), but I’m not sure about the whole slamming stomping thing.
Lots of challenges ahead as a frequently flummoxed parent, and maybe this is the first of the inevitable huge overwhelming tide of external influences that will colour her, push and pull her, buffet her and form her. As with everything so far, this ended up with her seeking love and a hug (and, after she finished the soup, some milky), but the hugs and the milky won’t always be there and it’s made me realise more than ever the importance of her just knowing she’s loved and that she is important and of forgiveness, and also what’s right and wrong so when she’s in the playground, the street, the wider world that will somehow ground her.
I too shall channelling my inner Elsa and stomping my foot, “here I stand, and here I’ll stay”,
but as the inevitable storms rage on as she grows up, it may well rather bother me anyway … or maybe I should just let it go … (sorry!).
One morning we decided to have a little potter up into Sheringham to buy an ice cream. The girls were squabbling about who was to walk infront and we were a little jaded. We passed a toy shop, and before we could walk them on by, the door opened and they darted in. It wasn’t just any toy shop, it was an Aladdin’s cave of beautiful wooden toys, lovely clothes, classic books and magical colours and shapes. The back room was tiny, and a treasure trove of dressing up paraphernalia. We forgot about the girls in our own sense of wonder, I stood watching a marvellous machine cast dancing vivid butterflies on the ceiling in the dressing up house. I wished I was 3 1/2, I wished I had space to fill with fabulous fanciful toys and I wished I had the money to buy the entire contents of the shop. It was called Heirloom Toys.
We were both persuaded to buy treasure for our daughters, and as we were paying I asked the lady behind the till (she was born to work in a toy shop) if they might be interested in stocking my own book, Milky Moments … she thought so but suggested I contact the owner. We left, had our ice creams, had a swim in the sea and then ate fish and chips as the sun went down … and once the girls were asleep, sat, with a glass of wine and set the world to rights and reflected on the day; the sand castles, the sea, and the glorious toy shop.
A few months on and the same glorious toy ship is now stocking my book, and they sent me a gift. Well not me exactly, my daughter.
She has long been fascinated by all things medical. She’s been to the doctor with me while I’ve had injections, she’s watched me have an X ray, she’s given me a spoon of medicine and now spends at least half an hour a day pretending either to give birth or healing one of her sickly dolls. Her friend, the one we went to the beach with, has a doctor’s kit, whenever we go round they fight over it and eventually settle into a truce and take each other’s pulse, look into ears and listen to heart beats. My daughter always cries when it’s time to go home, to leave her friend, and the doctor’s kit, behind.
In the end I bought her one, she was delighted, but it was rubbish, fell apart quickly and looked so flimsy. All this however was remedied when a box arrived from Hierloom Toys. I put it on the kitchen table, the normally reluctant hand washing completed in super fast time and the green tissue paper began flying. When she saw the picture of the Doctor’s Bag on the box she gasped out loud, “Mama it’s beautiful, I love you”. She couldn’t get into the box fast enough (rather annoyingly neither could I due to sellotape and short finger nails, but we got there in the end.
Forget the plastic flimsy doctor’s set, this was different. A lovely smart red doctor’s bag (the proper squishy old fashioned shape), with a big white cross on the front, and inside, well inside were every single thing a young doctor could possibly need. A stethoscope, a syringe that goes up and down, a knee banging reflex testing device, a bottle of medicine, a jar of calamine lotion, an ear listener, a thermometer and most excitingly, a blood pressure machine, with a lovely blue gingham cuff and a dial and a little pumping ball.
Every piece of the kit beautifully made, cheerfully painted lovely wood or soft fabric. She’s often happy, but this pushed her beyond happy to utter contentment, then absolute delight and on into her own little world. Then, “lie down Mummy, you’re sick and I’m the doctor” … I must have had at least 20 injections and be the person with the most measured blood pressure. We made bandages from strips of the packaging as well and played for about 2 hours.
That was a week ago, and every day since then she has assessed, diagnosed, ministered to and healed me, her Grandmother and all of her dolls and bears. She is the proudest small doctor and regularly just gazes at the bag and smiles in a whimsical fashion, “Mummy it’s beautiful. I’m a doctor Mummy, and you’re sick”.
The red doctor’s bag take pride of place in whatever room she invades, and we have serious stress when she’s discouraged from taking it out to the shops, or into the bath. She adores it, and that makes me so happy.
If you’re in Norfolk, do pop into Heirloom Toys, they have two shops, in Sheringham and in Burnham Market (both glorious places for a visit), and if you’re anywhere else then check out their website for a small selection of the adventure that’s inside their shops.
If you’d like to be in the draw to ‘win’ the other beautiful green tissue wrapped box full of medical marvels also known as the Le Toy Van Dr’s Set and a copy of my lovely book Milky Moments, all you need to do is like Heirloom Toy’s Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Heirloomtoyshop and leave a comment on the pinned post there about the give away letting us know why your child would love to win this toy using the hashtag #DoctorsSet. If you also click ‘like’ on the http://www.facebook.com/milkymomentsbook page you’ll be in with a double chance of winning this double prize as you’ll go into the hat twice if you’re a ‘fan’ of both pages.
Taking a small person shopping is always an adventure, and often hard work … but frequently extremely funny as the honest and insightful observations can be very to the point!
I hate shopping, I’m bad at it, it makes me anxious and frankly the hoovering (which is done very rarely) is more appealing.
Anyway, if I need to go shopping I always end up taking small person with me as wasting work time during her nursery days seems too indulgent … so, a week or so back I tore a hole in my last intact bra so decided I needed a new one. I bought it a few years back and was awed by the assistance in Bravissimo so I headed back there again, I figured they sell bras that are built to last and built to stand small person abuse, and it wasn’t a stressful place to shop.
She came in with me, we were ushered down to the changing rooms and the lovely Amy headed off to find something suitable. Small person decided it was time for milky, seeing as my chest was exposed … she then stopped abruptly as Amy reappeared draped with lacy underwear and very carefully inspected every item.
“try that one Mama”, “no that not good”, “I want you have pretty bra like Auntie Annie”, “Yes that nice colour”, “I don’t like that bow”, “Milkies not like being in that bra get it off”.
Amy ran too and fro as we sorted through and tried on a lace mountain. Small one slurped and supervised in equal measure … the whole thing was exhausting!
We got there in the end and she pronounced to the assistant who took payment that, “my milkies will be happy in their new bra, my Mummy has big milkies you know” … so it was with a flushed face that I fled out into the street.
I should have learnt from the experience … but I didn’t! I noticed that my leg hair was down to my ankles and that generally my lower region resembled that of a baboon … we’re going swimming fairly regularly now so I decided I needed a wax, not a big one, I’m not into those, but a general tidy up seemed in order.
We went to playgroup and afterwards, she bribed with a magazine full of pink stickers, we found a place to get me pruned and plucked. Turned out they only took cash so we had to walk out back to the bank to the cash point.
We bumped into a friend, a male friend, a few yards along the road. He gave her a hug, kissed me on the cheek and asked what we were up to, “oh just a bit of shopping, nothing much”, I started to say … then she piped up, “my mummy is getting waxed, she’s getting her fanny waxed … she has a hairy bottom, Stacey is going to wax it all better”…
I have never blushed so much in all my life … “oh yes relaxing is so important”, I mumbled in a desperate effort to distract her and to make him think he’d misheard what she’d said. “Yes, my Mummy is having her bottom waxed”, she continued, “and I have a magazine”. I couldn’t make eye contact with him, and he didn’t know what to say or where to look!
“Right then, come on little one, let’s go to the bank”, I shoved her forward along the road waving goodbye as we went.
I couldn’t stop giggling after that and have been anxious ever since about what she was going to say … thankfully the excitement seems to be past and she’s not told anyone else!
Not quite sure what to say next time I run into him though!!
So … I wrote a book, it took an age and I never dreamt it would be published … it was, in May 2015, it sold out in a few weeks and then kept on selling, hardback and paperback …
and then, it was selected as a contender for the People’s Book Prize … all publishers are invited to submit their new books, a few are selected each season, in different categories …
Milky Moments, my book, was chosen in the Autumn selection … alongside 7 other contenders http://www.peoplesbookprize.com/section.php?id=7
The whole thing is open to a public vote … think X factor, think American Idol, think Strictly or Dancing with the Stars … people have to vote, not on the phone but online … then at the end of each season, the 3 most popular books go through to the final which is in May.
So … vote, please please please vote … getting to the final would be the most impossible dream come true … and it will also help bring the normalizing of breastfeeding for children and in children’s literature much more into the mainstream media who currently consider the book “too niche” to review.
You have to register, which takes a minute or so, they then email you a confirmation (mine went to spam filter), and then you can vote … you can either comment along with the vote, or just vote
Thank you thank you thank you thank you… any and all votes appreciated (one per email address)… and any encouraging of friends, family, lovers, neighbours, children, random passers by to vote as well would be hugely appreciated.
Sorry to ask like this but a huge huge deal for a little book and a first time author!
We’ve been playing noughts and crosses (tic tac toe) for a while now.
Her auntie gave her a little wooden board with pleasing red circles and solid black X’s on little wooden squares to slot in … we play differently most times … sometimes we build a tower of alternate colours, other times just race to see who can put their colour on the board fastest and other times we take turns and if a line comes it’s exciting but fairly random.
Today we played it properly … and she won.
I sat and explained the rules, showed her the way the lines work and we talked about diagonal lines.
Then we started … she watched, thought about it and then put down her pieces. The first time I won, she was thoughtful for a while, “we play again Mama”, and that was it … next 4 games she wiped the floor with me. I didn’t try to lose, I played to win and she walloped me!!
“Ok Mama, you must practise I think! We have breakfast now … tomorrow we play again and you can have the goodness and I’ll have the naughtiness” … then I realised I’d referred to the game as noughts and crosses for the first time rather than circles and crosses … and this was her spin on that, “Mama if I have the naughtiness for you then maybe you win next time”.
I love this small person… and she’s right, I must practise!
She’s started rationalising why she does or doesn’t want to do things … why she was mischievous, why she got cross, why she was happy … really just WHY?
for the last six weeks she’s been saving.
Well that’s not strictly true, she’s been saving for the last two years… every penny she picks up, every note or coin she’s given, they all go into her piggy bank, her hand painted and very loved pink pank (as she calls it), or the rabbit pank … a hand painted glazed rabbit with a slot in the top. Every now and again we go to the bank and we deposit money into her account. It’s always an adventure, and the receipts are kept like golden tickets as special treasures.
So she’s been saving for ages, but for the last weeks it’s been for something particular. Read more…